Tag Archive: IZOD Arena

The abrupt shuttering of the Izod Center: A travesty

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) yesterday in a Blue Jersey post, Transparency & The NJSE, raised six important questions about the abrupt closure of the Meadowlands Izod Center Arena. She has good reason for her concerns. She is seeking answers and is known for her persistence and success.  

As the Star-Ledger reported on January 15, “With little warning and no public notice, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority voted this afternoon to shut down the Meadowlands Izod Arena by the end of the month and shift the remaining few events on its schedule to the Prudential Center in Newark. Officials said the Izod Center’s continuing losses left them no choice. In its agreement with Prudential, the state will keep the arena dark for at least two years, receiving $2 million in compensation for the added events.”

This action, taken with no documetation as to its need, hurts Bergen County which loses jobs, tax revenue and  local business income, as well as a near-by entertainment venue. However, there are significant advantages for other groups. A confluence of special interests and the governor appear to be at the root of this travesty.

News Roundup & Open Thread for Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Governor Christie presents his “State of the State” Address at 2:00 PM. today, and you can listen to it here or via NJN News.

The Why, Who, What, and Where about the speech.

Meanwhile FDU poll now shows Christie’s favorable-to-unfavorable opinion rating is 47%-39%. 53% of voters approve of the way he is handling his job as governor, while 36% disapprove.

Then later today you can get out your shovel or snow blower as our winter wonderland adventure is expected to resume.

In spite of tough questions from Weinberg, Sarlo, and Girgenti

Reform Jersey Now Treasurer Ron Gravino wins committee approval (7-5) as a Turnpike Commissioner.

Legislature abolishes COAH, 2.5% fee on commercial development,

and reduces some municipalities’ obligations to provide housing for low- and moderate-income families.

Progressive Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Hamilton) takes oath of office,

and assumes position formerly held by now Sen. Linda Greenstein.

‘Back to Work’ and more, below the fold.

Actions Speak Louder Than “Moments”

THE TICKLER FILE

Transportation Trust Fund As NJ Spotlight points out Christie is already two months behind his own schedule for producing a plan for the fund. He pledged during his gubernatorial campaign to use a “pay-as-you-go” approach, and he has consistently said he will not raise the gas tax. The Regional Plan Association has reported that former Governor Corzine’s $3.2 billion transportation spending level was not enough, but Christie has suggested his plan will be even less robust. Our infrastructure maintenance and repair needs are growing exponentially and threatening our lives and future. Governor Christie must stop delaying, establish  a new revenue source (probably increased gas taxes) and build a realistic medium-term plan to address our fraying infrastructure.

Medical Cannabis Regulations – The concurrent resolution adopted December 13 provides the Health Department 30 days to amend or withdraw its proposed regs or the Legislature may invalidate the regs. Hopefully the Health Department will make the four required changes plus others that experts have recommended. However Christie spokesperson Michael Drewniak suggested that only two changes based on Christie’s earlier “compromise” with Assemblyman Gusciora will be implemented. With people seriously ill and in pain, Christie can and must end his pettiness and do better.  

Xanadu Meadowlands Complex – Jon F. Hanson, who heads the governor’s commission on the state’s gaming and entertainment industry, said in November his panel expects to file recommendations to Gov. Chris Christie on the dormant $2 billion mall project before Christmas. He indicated four companies remain interested in the project, which could include the Izod Arena. It’s time to come to terms with a purchaser of this complex where current costs of upkeep are high but where long term value is much higher. Rather than more Christie YouTube “moments” we need more Christie action.

   

Sports & Entertainment: 3 Ill-Conceived Ventures

Three Bad Ideas: 1) The notion that the State of New Jersey could do a good job running Sports & Entertainment venues; 2. that Xanadu would become a great success; and 3) that the NJ Nets Basketball team could be successfully moved to Brooklyn.

First lets address one delusion of Governor Christie, as reported in today’s Record. Regarding any deal between the Nets and the Devils under which the the basketball team would move to Newark, Governor Christie said,”Nothing comes to my desk unless I want it to come to my desk.”  Dear Mr. Governor, you are the governor, and like it or not you can’t always control what lands on your desk.  Check with your predecessors.

The State’s ownership and management of Sports & Entertainment venues historically has been rife with over-bloated salaries, perks for politicians, waste, and fraud.  The result: a run on the State treasury. The state should sell off its assets, get out of this business, and turn it over to private enterprise.

Only other delusional people could have believed in the success of Xanadu.  Beyond being the turnpike’s great eyesore, it had little to offer.  Yes, an indoor ski slope was an innovative idea, but most of the other projects – restaurants, shops, a movie theater –  are already available in many  malls without having to face the potential Meadowlands traffic congestion, turnpike toll fees, Xanadu parking fees, and long walks within the huge facility.  As a nearby resident I saw little in Xanadu that I could not find  find a few miles from where I live (or probably from where you live) – and without the headaches. (Naturally sunday football rituals at the stadium are not materially affected.)

The state could wait several years until the economy improves substantially and perhaps negotiate a strong financial deal for the Xanadu property, but in the meantime the existing structures would deteriorate while the state treasury struggles.  According to the Record,  real estate executive Steve Ross is in serious talks to take over Xanadu.  Such a deal, negotiated wisely by the state, could be a win-win.  The state would get revenue from the sale, and with some fresh rethinking from new ownership, Xanadu might yet become a success.

As a longtime NJ Nets fan, the plan of its real estate owner to move the team to Brooklyn has been so far an equally ill-conceived venture – fraught with delays, uncertainty and the Perils of Pauline. The results: the owner has starved the team of money and talent, reduced the fan base,  entered into a convoluted ownership arrangement with a wealthy Russian sports team owner whose plans are unclear, and as a final insult removed “NJ”, leaving only “NETS”, as the name for this team whose roots are long entwined in the history of NJ sports.

NJ fans want a NJ basketball team.  It belongs in Newark’s Prudential Center.  The IZOD Arena is an aging venue that inside resembles a larger version of your high school basketball arena, full of concrete blocks, few amenities, and ugliness.  It did serve a purpose and offered value to sports fans, but it no longer meets the needs of  a modern sports arena.  It would cost a huge sum to renovate – funds for which the State is in no position to borrow money.

If a private buyer for the IZOD Arena could be found, that would be great. Let the buyer refurbish it.  However, without at least one major sports team in the arena it probably is not financially viable. Prolonging its life as a state entity will only result in  ongoing deficits and in reduced income for both Prudential Center and IZOD Arena as they compete for entertainment attractions.

Our state has more pressing problems now.  It should get out of the S&E business, make as good a deal as it can over the Xanadu property, shed itself of the IZOD Arena, and encourage the NJ Nets to move to Newark.   The Governor, wearing his hat as S&E Czar, has tough decisions to make. They will land on his desk whether he wants them to or not.  But heck, isn’t that his job?